News Bites

News Bites

Highest ASEE diversity recognition

Iowa State College of Engineering has received the highest honor from the American Society for Engineering Education Diversity Recognition Program, placing the college among the nation’s leaders in inclusive excellence.

“This recognition highlights the array of student services we provide that focus on the academic, professional, social development and success of our students who hold a variety of unique identities,” said LeQuetia Ancar, assistant director of engineering student services and director of multicultural student success. “The honor acknowledges that we have been and are continuing to work at meeting the holistic needs of our underrepresented students.”

New instruments for new materials

Two Cyclone Engineers have received awards from the Department of Defense under the Defense University Research Instrumentation Program.

Valery Levitas, Anson Marston Distinguished Professor of Engineering, Vance Coffman Faculty Chair Professor in aerospace engineering, and scientist at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory, is designing and constructing a new type of dynamic panoramic diamond anvil cell (DAC) and dynamic rotational diamond anvil cell (RDAC) to examine materials at high-strain rates under high pressure and large deformations.

Sid Pathak, assistant professor of materials science and engineering, will expand the capabilities of the Alemnis in-situ micro-mechanical system to measure mechanical properties under extreme temperatures and high strain rates.

Connecting manure management and antibiotic resistance

Adina Howe, assistant professor of agricultural and biosystems engineering, leads a team in a $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture to study how manure management systems in livestock production affect the development of bacteria capable of resisting antibiotics.

Howe, along with Michelle Soupir, professor of agricultural and biosystems engineering, Daniel Andersen, associate professor of agricultural and biosystems engineering, and others, will identify specific antibiotics and bacterial strains in pig manure samples as well as the specific genes that confer resistance. They’ll also examine methods to stop the spread of resistant bacteria, including decomposition with composting and anaerobic digestion.

Restoring wind-dominant power grids after blackouts

In Iowa more than 40 percent of electricity is generated from wind, but what happens when a storm blows through or another disaster takes down transmission towers? Bringing wind power back isn’t a typical step-by-step blackout recovery.

Hugo Villegas Pico, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, is leading research on how to orchestrate the restoration of wind-dominant grids. Working with Bill Gallus, an Iowa State professor of geological and atmospheric sciences and a storm researcher; MidAmerican Energy Co.; and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s National Wind Technology Center, Villegas Pico plans to explore a variety of innovation solutions including creating novel automatic synchronization methods, combining artificial intelligence tools with new forecasting tools for dynamic restoration plans, and using batteries to help restart wind energy systems.

Shaping next generation science policy

Emily Rinko, a Ph.D. student in materials science and engineering, co-chairs the Students, Post-Doctoral and Early Career Subcommittee (SPEC) a new subcommittee of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST).

“I want to help create a positive and supportive environment for future scientists,” said Rinko, noting that her subcommittee’s feedback on PCAST reports and policy will help make science feel more accessible to students like herself.

Rinko studies powder-based aluminum-nickel-cobalt magnets in the research group of Iver Anderson, adjunct professor of materials science and engineering and scientist at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory.

Two new CAREER awards

Nigel Reuel, assistant professor of chemical and biological engineering, will develop novel, real-time sensors and reinforcement learned, dynamic control policies to improve reproducibility in large-scale manufacturing of differentiated, cell therapies. Reuel will benchmark the new control approach against static differentiation recipes using a range of model cells and will broaden impact with an interactive art exhibit, new course modules and a tool development workshop.

Zhaoyu Wang, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, is developing new optimization and probabilistic graph learning methods to make possible data-driven, real-time electric power network modeling, rapid detection of outages, and robust distribution system state estimation. He’ll also make available open-source data sets, create training for energy professionals and develop interactive smart grid educational activities for high schoolers.